Purchasing from the secondary market
The importance of wine bottle inspection
Receiving a spoiled or fraudulent wine from an online retailer is immensely frustrating for wine collectors. Unfortunately, this is exactly what one Wine Berserkers forum member experienced when he bought bottles from an auction website a few years ago. After winning an online auction, the bottles arrived on his doorstep seemingly unscathed. But when he inspected them more closely, he saw that a couple of the bottles had signs of seepage around the cork and appeared to be completely cooked. Learn more.
How to trace your wines history
Collectors often assume that a wine's provenance doesn't matter once they've bought their bottles and stowed them away in their cellars. This might be true if they only plan on drinking the wine, but if they want to resell the bottle later, the wine's provenance still has a long way to go. I've bought bottles that I thought I would drink myself, only to realize years later that I'd rather sell them. Learn more.
Tips for a successful wine auction purchase
Sometimes sellers will put a bad wine case up for auction without realizing there's anything wrong with it. Take premox for example; unless you open one of the bottles, it's not immediately apparent when a case of wine has been impacted. A collector might naively invest in a vintage that's notorious for premox problems, keep the bottles under storage for a few years or more, then resell that case at auction without ever knowing that he was holding onto a ticking time bomb. His buyer will be the first to discover that disappointing news. Learn more.
How to avoid fraud at auction
With wine fraud it's difficult to know how widespread the problem is until major collectors like Bill Koch become its victims. The wine industry brings in about $300 billion per year in revenue, but experts believe that hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits are made exclusively on fake or mislabeled wine. A recent study found that about five percent of wines in a major collector's cellar are fraudulent, which means that collectors need to ensure their collection is genuine by finding reputable ways to buy wine. Learn more.
How to authenticate a wine collection
Recently a wine collector bought dozens of bottles of decades-old Burgundy and was curious to know whether all of the wines in the lot were real, so he invited over a few of his wine expert friends for an authentication tasting. One of the friends in attendance, wine critic Allen Meadows, says he thought that at least three out of the 17 wines they tried that day were fake. Meadows explains that wine fraud wasn't that common 20 years ago, but now that the wine industry has become more profitable for investors more frauds are trying to game the system. Learn more.
Lessons in avoiding counterfeit wine
In 1988, billionaire Bill Koch bought the wine of a lifetime: four pristine 1784 Lafite bottles owned by Thomas Jefferson himself. Koch paid wine collector Hardy Rodenstock nearly $500,000 for the privilege of owning a piece of wine history. In 2005 Koch submitted his bottles to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, but soon discovered he had been the victim of one of the biggest wine frauds in history. Learn more.
How to avoid counterfeit wine bottles
Your best defense against wine fraud is choosing a trustworthy retailer. Quality retailers will have a long history of selling authentic wines to customers, will inspect your wines for fraud, and will offer you a refund if you suspect the wine is fake. You'll also want to learn how to spot fakes on your own. Check the wine label for flaws, look at the amount of wine that's in the bottle, test the wine's color, and be wary of commonly-faked vintages. Wine frauds can be sneaky, so when in doubt, ask the experts. Learn more.
How to avoid buying prematurely oxidized wine
Premature oxidation (premox) catches even the most seasoned wine collectors by surprise, and it's easy to accidentally invest in an oxidized case at auction. Collector Billy Grippo has an expansive collection containing several thousand bottles at a time, and even he's fallen victim to premox wines. Grippo explains, “A lot of people put their wines up for auction knowing that out of that box there are two or three that are likely oxidized.” Learn more.
What to do if you bought a bad wine at auction
Buying a bad wine at auction is inconvenient and stressful, especially when you don't know what your rights are as a buyer. There are four main problems that might require you to contact an auction house: old wines that have expired, young wines with serious flaws like oxidization, cooked or otherwise damaged wine, and fake bottles. Each of these issues requires you to take different sets of steps to remedy it. If you recently bought a bad wine at auction, we have the steps that you can take to remedy the problem. Learn more.
How to buy wine on ebay and Craigslist
Buying wine from a user-driven website is inherently risky; you don't know the person you're buying from, how the bottles were stored, or whether they're even authentic. Furthermore, if anything is wrong with the wines you won't have a way to get a refund. However, it's unusual to find a broad selection of older bottles from sought-after producers in a single sale (outside of major in-person auctions). If you are thinking about purchasing from a stranger, be aware of the risks. If you decide you'd still like to go ahead, follow our six-step process for the best results. Learn more.